Revisit one of the all-time great late night music programs produced by Hal Willner.
For two years starting at the end of the 1980s, the producer and musical polymath Hal Willner programmed a weekly show on NBC that featured some of the strangest musical line-ups ever broadcast on network television. First called “Sunday Night” and then “Night Music,” the show was hosted by saxophonist David Sanborn and aired from 1988 through 1990.
In those two years, Willner and company booked artists including Sonic Youth, Miles Davis, the Residents, Charlie Haden and His Liberation Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Pharoah Sanders, Karen Mantler, Diamanda Galas, John Lurie and Nana Vasconcelos and dozens of others.
A typical show offered a mix-and-match set of experimental titans from across genres. One episode from season two, for example, featured the network television debut of the Pixies, folk singer Syd Straw, beat producer Arthur Baker, Memphis soul legend Al Green and reggaeton star Sister Carol.
Oh, and that same show featured a 15-minute interview-performance by Sun Ra’s Arkestra that finds the composer-pianist-Afrofuturist at the peak of his experimental powers, moving from piano to Yahama DX-7 and back again while the Arkestra flexes its cosmic muscles.
Watch it below, followed by a handful of other performances.